I call it “the other n-word.” Being someone who prided herself on being different, who grew up weird in a rural town (and then weird in a suburban town), I have always embraced my difference different, normal has been something to be avoided. I read it an insult: Ugh, he is just so…so normal!

But now the word brings out in me an entirely different set of emotions…since it is often used as a counterpart to my daughter. For instance, a doctor might say: “Kids normally walk between 10 and 16 months.” Read: Your daughter is not walking (sitting or crawling) at 2. She is abnormal.

I have a hard time with the word “normal” as a counterpart to Esmé (or children like Esmé). There is something about it that makes me cringe every time–even when someone I know and trust uses it. I very pointedly have a preference for the phrase “typically developing” in place of “normal.”

I should say here, that I have no illusions about my child being typical. But, I think it is the presumed value of “normal” that I am so troubled by when that word is used around my daughter…because that value is both counter to my experience and to my own values. I don’t see Ezzy as “normal,” nor would I wish her to be seen in that way…but I also don’t like what I read behind the use of the term: If Ezzy is not “normal,” what is she? And what value does the user place on that designation?

I wish it didn’t trouble me. But, the fact is, it does.

People ask: “Will she walk in an ordinary manner?” Doctors say: “She lagging behind the average milestones” Friends wonder: “Are things getting back to normal?”

I think “Fuck you, normal, who the hell do you think you are?”

…and then I say:

“we just don’t know yet”

“Yes, I understand”

and “Oh, sure…we are settling in”